Tuesday, May 6, 2008

humans vs. fruit flies

my reading students are doing a unit on the brain. we just read an article about a mouse that was genetically engineered to be smarter. the kids and i discussed for a bit if that was possible with humans - they weren't too quick to agree. anyway, this morning in the ny times i read an article about the science of making animals smarter and whether or not that was a good thing. one particular passage grabbed my attention because of a conversation i had last night with my home teacher newly turned eq pres. he said in his new position as eq pres people tell him things they never did before. he has heard stories about stupid people who seem to lack any sort of knowledge about the dating process and basic etiquette. the article made me wonder if humans really are all that smart - are we any smarter than a fruit fly?

"Research by Dr. Dukas and others has shown that insects deserve more respect. Dr. Dukas has found that the larvae of one of the all-time favorite lab animals, the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, could learn to associate certain odors with food and other odors with predators.
In another set of experiments, Dr. Dukas discovered that young male flies wasted a lot of time trying to court unreceptive females. It takes time to learn the signs of a receptive fly."

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